Tank Pioneer

Ludwig von Eimannsberger was an Austrian military officer and armored theorist whose 1934 book “Der Kampfwagenkrieg” proved prescient (though as with everything else, there’s argument about just how influential he truly was).

Regular infantry divisions for the grinding, independent tank brigades designed to be attached to the infantry units for support, and a pair of specialized exploitation forces-divisions with hundreds of tanks to spearhead the exploitation and motorized infantry divisions with massive amounts of antitank artillery to guard the flanks of the tanks. The heavier artillery (Eimannsberger was an artillery officer) was intended to be multipurpose, able to be used for anti-tank, anti-air, and both direct and indirect support fire.

His armored division is a little (forgivably) tank-heavy and infantry light. The formations overall are, with hindsight a little too pure and over-specialized. More interestingly, Eimannsberger was a World War I artillery commander who still thought like a World War I artillery commander in terms of command and control. It’s an open question as to whether a more modest and stiff but doable system like his or a shoot-for-the-moon deep attack that the Soviets proposed at the same time, but were unable to meaningfully do in practice until after years of war and hard lessons was “better”.

Still, it’s an interesting historical footnote.

The UN Legion and its opponent

One serious proposal for a standing “UN Legion” got me thinking. How would it compare to its most likely [conventional] opponent? The UN Legion (highly unlikely to be deployed in its entirety) would compare on the high-end to a Light OPFOR (conceived around the same time) mechanized force.

In short:

  • The two have a comparable mix of equipment, however the Legion’s equipment is likely to be newer but lighter (their heaviest vehicles are MGS/ERC-style wheeled ‘tank destroyers’). The Legion’s IFVs are considerably better, being newer wheeled ones, while the Light OPFOR division will be lucky to get older BMPs.
  • The biggest divergence is in heavy weapons. The Light OPFOR division has no organic aviation while the Legion has a sizable helicopter force. However, the entire Legion has only 18 towed artillery pieces, while a single mechanized brigade has that many self-propelled ones.



Building and Destroying Tank Formations

A division-sized mechanized formation tends to have (as a rough rule of thumb that assumes a big Cold War sized division as the base), around 500-600 armored vehicles in it, with the ratio of tanks to APCs/IFVs depending on the exact type of unit, whether it’s a tank/armored or motor rifle/mechanized infantry unit.

So, as a very rough artificial measurement for an artificial country in an artificial setting, I can tend to just plop down a number of overall tanks and divvy them up.

The next part is figuring out how quickly those formations of tanks would get destroyed in actual fighting. It depends on the kind of fighting and opponent, and ranges from “a year” to “less than a day”.